Yoga poses build off one another to prepare the mind and body for advanced postures. Some add strength, others add stretch, and a few may help prepare the mind. One-Legged Wheel pose, or eka pada urdhva dhanurasana, is a literal extension of urdhva dhanurasana (also called Wheel pose). This advanced backbend builds on the Wheel pose by adding the challenge of having one leg extended up into the air, keeping the body flexible and the mind open.
The Wheel Pose with one leg has many benefits. The entire front body, including the glutes, legs, arms, wrists, and spine, is stretched in its full form. The backbend can also be energizing, while the one-legged version creates an imbalance that may challenge your balance and improve it over time.
It takes patience and flexibility to prepare for this backbend. You should also warm up your body before you begin. Use the poses listed below to prepare your body and mind to practice this posture. Warm up first with Sun Salutations.
Cow Face Pose
Gomukhasana can be used to stretch the hips, legs, and ankles of the lower body, the chest, and shoulders, as well as the triceps and deltoids in the upper body. This pose will stretch the hips and shoulders to the maximum.
Tadasana with One Leg
It may seem strange at first to extend one leg away. Standing in Tadasana, lift the knee towards the chest while keeping your hands on your hips. After you’ve found your balance, straighten out the leg, and then kick it out while extending and flexing your toes.
Engage your abdominals instead of leaning back to keep a straight posture. Try it on both sides and start to notice what happens with the rest of your body. You can explore how it feels to extend the leg and find balance.
Dogs that face upward
Urdhva Svanasana mirrors the One-Legged Wheel Pose by having the same urdhva (or upward-facing) motion on the front of the body. Upward Dogs are a great way to strengthen wrists, arms, and abdominal muscles.
Camel Pose is a variation of Upward Facing Dog, which deepens the backbend while simultaneously stretching hips, shoulders, and chest. This pose helps you to get used to the traction or bend with gravity that you have in the one-legged wheels pose.
Upward Plank/One-Legged Upward Plank
The upward plank helps to stretch the chest, deltoids, and front body. This also prepares the wrists to perform the same hand placement as in the one-legged wheels.
Extending one leg upward is a good way to try the Upward Plank. You can prepare yourself to take the extra step by extending one leg. This pose also helps strengthen the quadriceps, which are essential for achieving the One-Legged Wheel Pose.
Bow pose, also known as Dhanurasana, is a backbend in which the arms are used to increase the depth. This pose stretches your chest, shoulders, and thighs. This pose gives you the same movement as the Wheel but in the other direction.
Bridge Pose/One-Legged Bridge Pose
Bridge pose allows you to become accustomed to working up from the floor. It also stretches your chest, shoulders, and legs. The Bridge is another common way to get into Wheel pose. It is a good platform to use before moving on to One-Legged Wheel Pose.
Continue to extend your leg, but come into the One-Legged Bridge. For extra support, place your hands on your lower back. Or keep your hands in the same position as Bridge.
You must be comfortable in the Wheel pose before you can do urdhva Dhanurasana. Before lifting your leg, make sure you are aligned safely in this backbend. The key to this pose is to relax and find a balance that allows you the calmness to stabilize yourself, then extend one leg to raise your height.
Eka pada Urdhva Dhanurasana is a stunning pose that stands alone. To achieve the posture, you need to warm up with appropriate postures and build flexibility and strength. The pose is also the embodiment of all the poses you need to build up in order to achieve it.
Lift your leg slowly and concentrate on how you feel in your body. It’s not about how high you can raise your leg but how confident and balanced your body feels. Try a pose that is more accessible. You will develop your carriage with patience and practice.